Posts tagged with "OMA":

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Albright-Knox Art Gallery reveals new expansion renderings

OMA’s expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, is continuing apace and has gained a new collaborator: Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and his art and architecture workshop, Studio Other Spaces (SOS). The $160 million AK360 expansion project—up from what was originally $80 million—was first announced back in 2016 when the art institution decided to add another 30,000 square feet to its campus. Any changes to the gallery would have to be done with care, as the gallery’s central Gordon Bunshaft–designed building from 1962 sits on a Frederick Law Olmsted landscape. Bunshaft’s wing was an addition to an even older Beaux-Arts museum built in 1905. After unanimous approval by the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the board that manages the gallery, a revised scheme by OMA was approved in 2018. On April 11 of this year, further details, including the groundbreaking date for the expansion and design refinements to the scheme, were unveiled. The AK360 Campus Development and Expansion Project will add an entirely new OMA and Shohei Shigematsu–designed building to the north side of the Albright-Knox campus. The new building is intentionally ethereal and appears draped in a translucent sheet; a wraparound promenade will allow visitors to take in views of the historic landscape. Inside, the northern building will add visitor amenities and 30,000 square feet of gallery space for special exhibitions and the gallery’s permanent collection. The revision last week revamped the internal galleries according to an update from the Albright-Knox Gallery, but a full layout won’t become public until further in the design process. One major detail that has come to light is an addition by Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann of SOS. Covering an adjacent open-air sculpture garden, added in 1962 alongside the Bunshaft building, to create an all-weather gathering space had been part of the renovation plans since the beginning, but SOS has proposed turning the new roof into an art piece. Common sky, a fractalized canopy of glass and mirrors within a steel diagrid, would sprout from a central “trunk” and rise from the center of the courtyard to cover the new Indoor Town Square. The central column of Common sky would be hollow, allowing rain and snow to fall and drain away without directly exposing visitors to the elements. With construction expected to begin at the end of this year, the gallery has announced that operations at its main Elmwood Avenue campus will wind down as 2020 approaches. At the beginning of next year, the 15,000-square-foot Albright-Knox Northland, located at 612 Northland Avenue in Buffalo, will open and display special exhibitions and installations that don't require museum-quality conditions. Programming for the new space will be announced in the coming months. Furthering the gallery’s mission during construction will be the Albright-Knox Art Truck, which, beginning in spring 2020, will travel Western New York providing publicly-accessible classes, activities, and projects.
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Jason Long and Shohei Shigematsu plot inventive works across California

Although the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has been in business for decades and keeps a steadily growing constellation of offices around the globe, the firm has, until recently, had a relatively modest profile on the American West Coast.

But things are changing. As West Coast cities pursue new building efforts—including new neighborhoods, ecologically sensitive public parks, and experiments in multiuse complexes—OMA’s brand of frank intellectualism has slowly found a preliminary foothold in California.

The firm’s expanding Golden State presence includes a recently completed urban master plan for Facebook’s Willowbrook campus in Menlo Park, a residential condominium tower in San Francisco, as well as a trio of inventive projects in Los Angeles. Over the next few years, these projects are poised to join the Seattle Central Library and the Prada Epicenter Los Angeles, both from 2004, OMA’s only completed West Coast projects to date.

The latest westward push represents an ascendant energy emanating from the firm’s New York office, where OMA partners Jason Long and Shohei Shigematsu lead many dynamic projects taking shape across the continent and in Japan. When asked if a new California outpost was in the works for OMA, Shigematsu replied, “It’s always been a dream of ours,” before adding that current conditions were favorable but not exactly right for a potential OMA West branch. “Maybe if we get more projects out here.”

First and Broadway Park (FAB Park)

Also created in collaboration with Studio-MLA, the new First and Broadway Park in Los Angeles is set to contain a playful 100,000-square-foot retail, food, and cultural programming pavilion that anchors the ecologically sensitive park. The pavilion will be capped with an edible rooftop garden and a dining terrace that overlooks L.A.’s City Hall.

Along the ground, the park will be wrapped with ribbons of bench seating, elements fashioned to create interlocking outdoor rooms and plazas surrounded by native oak and sycamore trees. Water-absorbing landscapes around the seating areas are designed to harvest and retain rainwater while solar collection and a “Golden California” landscape lend the project its ecological bona fides.

The Avery (Transbay Block 8)

Related California’s crenelated 575-foot tower, known as The Avery, is part of a larger development created in conjunction with Fougeron Architecture for a blank site in downtown San Francisco’s bustling Transbay District.

For the project, the designers have carved a generous paseo through the buildable envelope for the site, creating a new retail and amenity plaza while also lending a tapered look to the 55-story tower. The gesture animates views for a collection of condominiums, market-rate apartments, and affordable housing units while also bringing sunlight down into the paseo and to the mid-rise block designed by Fougeron. Currently under construction, the tower is expected to open in 2019.

Audrey Irmas Pavilion

The Audrey Irmas Pavilion is the firm’s first cultural and religious project in the region. The trapezoidal building shares a site with the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and is made up of three interlocking volumes that connect to the outdoors via a sunken rooftop garden designed by landscape architecture firm Studio-MLA. An arched portal connects to a shared breezeway between the pavilion and the temple, which is framed by the leaning pavilion. The latter was designed with a pronounced slant both out of deference to historical structure and to illuminate the courtyard.

Referencing unbuilt proposals for Universal City and the L.A. County Museum of Art, Rem Koolhaas, OMA cofounder, said, “[The Pavilion] is part of a very consistent effort to do things here. It’s exciting if one thing happens to succeed, because architecture is a very complex profession where maybe a quarter of all attempts get anywhere.”

The Plaza at Santa Monica

Shigematsu explains that one concern driving the firm’s California projects involves delving into the region’s rich history of indoor-outdoor living. The approach is fully on display in The Plaza at Santa Monica, a 500,000-square-foot staggered mass of interlocking buildings intended to create a new mix of public outdoor spaces.

With a cultural venue embedded in the heart of the complex and ancillary indoor and outdoor public spaces laid out across building terraces, the complex aims for a unique take on the regional indoor-outdoor typology. The building is set to contain offices, a 225-suite hotel, as well as a market hall and public ice-skating rink.

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Finalists revealed for new arts center at University of Illinois at Chicago

Early this year, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) announced a three-firm shortlist to design a new “Center for the Arts” for the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts (CADA). Chosen from an international pool of 36 teams that responded to a request for qualifications, the shortlist includes OMA (New York) with KOO Architects (Chicago), Johnston Marklee (Los Angeles) with UrbanWorks Architects (Chicago), and Morphosis Architects (Culver City) with STL Architects (Chicago). UIC is both the largest university and the only public research university in the Chicago area with a student body among the five most diverse in the country, 40 percent of whom are first-generation college students. Initiated in 2017, the new Center for the Arts is part of UIC’s 10-year master plan, which calls for major physical development of the campus. The Center for the Arts will be the new public face of UIC’s East Campus. The project aims to provide “radically accessible spaces for all users.” At approximately 88,000 square feet it will be the new home of the School of Theatre and Music (STM) with two primary performance spaces, including a vineyard style concert hall for 500 people and a flexible main stage theater for 270 people. Additional program includes a large lobby, box office, donor lounge, shop, and café. Morphosis and STL Architects have proposed a project shaped by site conditions. Cues from the site inform the form of the building’s facets made of terra-cotta, concrete, and glass, a signal to the existing materiality of UIC’s campus. The building has a clear front and back as service entries sit tightly along the highway at the north edge of the site, leaving the south and corner edges to reveal the belly of the building and main points of public entry. A generous drop-off zone leads into the interior lobby featuring Netsch-like cascading stairs with views toward the nearby West Loop neighborhood and downtown. In the theater, a continuous surface ramp runs the perimeter of the room to provide radical accessibility to students learning stage technology. OMA and KOO Architects have proposed a stackable program with a central concert hall flanked by two towers (one for students, one for the public) with neighboring performance spaces. The towers imitate the many Chicago bridges that link the city while the performance spaces act like bookends to anchor the project. A second-floor plinth accommodates dual entries, each with a continuous surface monumental ramp considered “radically accessible” with physical openness and flexibility. The theater has a rooftop terrace and a large mechanical facade that opens onto the existing Harrison Field, bringing performances outside with the city as a backdrop. The entire design is blanketed by a doubly-curved, semi-translucent roof that resembles the swinging of a conductor’s baton. Johnston Marklee and UrbanWorks have proposed two ziggurat-shaped buildings, which Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee described as both archaic and modern. Framed by a greenbelt that reflects attention back towards the campus, two brightly-colored volumes are housed within a glass and perforated metal veil. The formal strategy is a nod to Chicago architect Walter Netsch’s ideas of “stacking” while the material aims to visually open the campus, ostensibly creating a new approach to density. Connecting the two large volumes is a central core featuring an airy winter garden that expands programmatic possibilities for adjacent rehearsal rooms, café, store, and gallery. The University and CADA officials are currently in the process of securing the expected $94.5 million construction budget through private and public funds. It is unknown when the winner will be announced. The public may view and provide feedback on the proposals.
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OMA’s first Brooklyn project is a pair of zigzagging waterfront towers

The Greenpoint Landing megaproject in Brooklyn has gained a duo of interlocking rental towers courtesy of OMA. The ten-tower mixed-use development will ultimately bring 5,500 rental units to Greenpoint. Developer Brookfield Properties, who are bringing four towers to the development, and Park Tower Group have revealed the newest additions to the site, two leaning towers joined by a seven-story base. Other than the 745 rental units across both towers, 30 percent of which will be affordable, the project will expand the waterfront esplanade around the site by 2.5 linear acres. Other than the 768,000 square feet of residential space, the podium will also add 8,600-square-feet of ground-floor retail. The two towers will, as has become fashionable across the river in Manhattan, twist, turn, and part in the middle to reveal a wider view of the cityscape to the west. While the 300-foot-tall north tower will narrow as it rises thanks to a series of setbacks-turned-terraces, the 400-foot-tall southern tower will resemble a flipped version of its neighbor thanks to a series of cantilevers. “Brookfield and Park Tower Group have been working together to connect Greenpoint with its waterfront,” said OMA partner and project lead Jason Long, “and we are thrilled to be collaborating with them on our first project in Brooklyn. We have designed two towers—a ziggurat and its inverse—carefully calibrated to one another. Defined by the space between them, they frame a new view of Greenpoint and new vista from the neighborhood to Manhattan.” Both towers will feature large windows and a facade of precast concrete carved with “slices” that alternate direction as each major section changes. The direction of the carvings are aligned with the sun’s relative position in the sky, ensuring that the light is dispersed over the building dynamically throughout the day. James Corner Field Operations will be designing the new waterfront landscape areas, while Beyer Blinder Belle will serve as the project’s executive architect. Los Angeles’s Marmol Radziner will be handling the buildings’ interiors. Construction on the project is expected to kick off in August of this year.
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OMA to expand Sotheby’s New York headquarters

Sotheby’s has announced an expansive OMA-led renovation of its Manhattan headquarters, with an equally ambitious target opening date of May 3. The reorganization of the auction house's Upper East Side building will expand the amount of exhibition space from 67,000 square feet to 90,000 and add 40 new galleries. Twenty gallery typologies will be spread across the four floors of 1334 York Avenue, including double-height spaces, private viewing rooms, octagonal galleries, corridors, and a space for small objects (Sotheby’s also sells luxury goods alongside art). The auction house is also taking a cue from its London and Paris locations and will be modernizing its entrances with stained walnut woodwork. The project is being handled by OMA’s New York office and led by partner Shohei Shigematsu. Of the renovation, Shigematsu said: “We wanted to embody Sotheby’s ambition to reinvigorate and enhance the client experience by introducing high flexibility through reorganization of programs and diversification of gallery spaces. The new headquarters is designed for openness and discovery—all public facing programs are shifted to lower levels, unlocking the public potential of the building. A taxonomy of galleries can be used separately or as clusters to allow curatorial freedom, driven by business model shifts and expanding repertoire of programming.” The renovation aims not only to consolidate elements of the building’s programming but to diversify the gallery types and create more public-facing spaces. By using gallery “clusters,” the larger spaces can remain open even as collections are rotated out, which the auction house estimates will happen every three-or-four days. A coffee bar will also be coming to the building’s lobby. Sotheby’s has organized an auction of modern, contemporary, and Impressionist work to coincide with the May reopening, including a contentious Mark Rothko painting from SFMoMA. Beyer Blinder Belle is serving as the project’s executive architect.
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OMA drops a chromatic escalator in the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship

The ground floor of New York's sprawling $250 million Saks Fifth Avenue flagship renovation is complete, and OMA and Rem Koolhaas have designed a splashy, technicolored centerpiece for the midtown Manhattan shop. The luxury department store has embarked on an ambitious reorganization ahead of competitors moving into New York City; as Bloomberg notes, both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are opening their first N.Y.C. locations in 2019. Saks Fifth Avenue’s new ground floor is all about handbags. The previous first-floor tenants, the beauty and fine jewelry departments, have been moved upstairs. The Saks Store Planning and Design team and Gensler collaborated on the 53,000-square-foot first floor, installing custom terrazzo flooring from Italy, “experiential” handbag displays with appropriate signage, and wide, runway-inspired aisles. The centerpiece of the new handbag department is the escalator, which changes color as shoppers ride between the lower and main floors, and up to the beauty department on the second floor. UUfie, one of the Architectural League's 2019 Emerging Voices, also used a dichroic effect for a department store escalator, in that case Paris's Printemps Haussmann Verticalé. The second and third phases of the Saks renovation—the “vault,” which will showcase high-end jewelry, and the new menswear section—are both expected to open later this year.
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University of Illinois at Chicago selects high-profile finalists for new building

The University of Illinois at Chicago has revealed the names of the three finalist teams competing to design a new Center for the Arts on campus. The three teams are JohnstonMarklee and UrbanWorks, Morphosis and STL, and OMA and Koo Architecture. All teams include a local partner firm. The new building will be an 88,000-square-foot performing arts center with a 500-seat concert hall, 270-seat theater, and various support spaces. It will sit on what is now the empty Harrison Field. The original campus for the school was designed by Walter Netsch and a team from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The three winning teams were selected from a pool of 36, and they will now work on a preliminary design that will be presented in April when the ultimate winner will be selected.
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OMA’s Feyenoord Stadium set to transform Rotterdam’s waterfront

OMA has unveiled schematic designs of what will become the largest football venue in the Netherlands. The 63,000-seat Feyenoord Stadium will sit nestled along the river Maas with up-close views of Rotterdam’s skyline, replacing the city’s 80-year-old, out-of-regulation Stadium de Kuip. Tasked with the challenge to create a sports structure as beloved as its aged predecessor, OMA’s design team has envisioned an intimate, low-lying arena where every visitor, no matter their seat, will have unmatched views of the pitch below. It features a bowl shape set on a platform that partially juts out over the river. The main concourse wraps around the structure as a new urban plaza featuring a design by Lola Landscape. The current stadium De Kuip will be reimagined as part of a new residential, commercial, and recreational hub known as Feyenoord City. The build-out of Feyenoord Stadium will serve as a catalyst for this master plan, also designed by OMA, which aims to regenerate the underutilized waterfront Rotterdam Zuid neighborhood. The overall plan includes the redevelopment of De Kuip into an apartment complex and athletic center, as well as revamp an adjacent park. A pedestrian walkway, known as De Strip, will connect the old stadium with the upcoming arena, which is surrounded by rail and highways. Feyenoord Stadium is expected to open in 2023.
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OMA completes Brutalist-inspired tower in Stockholm

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The first of two new OMA-designed Brutalist-inspired towers, known as Norra Tornen, has officially been opened in Stockholm, Sweden. The 125-meter-tall residential tower is the tallest in the city, and when joined by its partner will act as a major gateway into the city.
  • Facade Manufacturer SCF Betongelement AB
  • Architects OMA
  • Facade Installer Havator
  • Facade Consultants Arup
  • Location Stockholm, Sweden
  • Date of Completion September 2018
  • System pre-cast concrete modules
  • Products Robotically bush hammered stone aggregate concrete panels
Formally and materially, the project is defined by 5,000 prefabricated panels, which also act as the main framework for the building. The “sandwich” panels include all the wall systems, including the windows, insulation, and exterior facade. This system, which is manufactured in Sweden, means that construction can happen at a breakneck speed, with new floors rising by the week. The facade is composed of robotically bush-hammered multi-colored stone aggregate concrete panels. From a distance, the tan concrete form of the building makes the Brutalist reference very clear. Upon closer inspection, the striated articulation of the concrete is highlighted by large pink, yellow, red, and brown aggregate embodied along the panels' ribs. Thanks to the pixelated form of the building, the facade’s surface area is greatly increased. This provides space for more windows, to capture as much fleeting Nordic sunlight as possible, as well as numerous recessed terraces for the temperate summers. It is also on these terraces that the finely finished facade can best be experienced. This articulation of form and choice of material ended up being the major architectural moves of the project, as the overall shape of the building was inherited by developer Oscar Properties from an earlier design by a city architect. OMA partner and lead designer of Norra Tornen, Reinier de Graaf was on hand for the opening of the building saying, “With a limited articulation of a given form, without breaking any rules, we were able to produce something that was quite different, quite surprising.” He continued to discuss the link between the industrial processes of building the prefabricated tower and its form. “It’s about repetition. It's about repeating one detail, in and out, and reversing it every other floor. And from the one repetitive industrial detail we can produce something highly varied.” When the second tower is completed next year the two towers will in some ways bring Brutalist architecture full circle. The term “Nybrutalism,” was first used in Sweden by famed local architect Hans Asplund in the 1950s and made famous by Reyner Banham. With the recent popularity of Brutalism in academic circles and preservation efforts around the world, it was only a matter of time before a major contemporary project be completed in the much-maligned style.
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OMA designs sinuous Dior show at the Denver Art Museum

American lovers of both fashion and architecture can get their fix in one hit this winter. OMA has designed an exhibition now open at the Denver Art Museum chronicling the history of French fashion house Dior. From Paris to the World winds a sinuous path through a floor of the angular Daniel Libeskind–designed building, "as a nod to Christian Dior’s obsession for his Granville garden," and the meandering path that runs through it, according to a statement from OMA. The path takes visitors through a timeline of the label's work, and its history with various high profile designers, including Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and its current creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. OMA designed the exhibition to conceptually bridge Dior's clothing with Libeskind's building. The design is built around aluminum surfaces, a reference to the museum's titanium cladding, but the metal in the exhibition comes in curvilinear forms that relate to the flowing couture garments on display. The aluminum begins as a wavy backdrop for the displays that wend through Anschutz Gallery where the metal takes a variety of treatments to match the evolution of the clothing line over time. In the Martin and McCormick Gallery, the metal is used in a series of petal-shaped pedestals that create a valley-like space that displays the fashion house's global inspirations. Dior: From Paris to the World is on display now through March 3 at the Denver Art Museum.
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OMA unveils fresh renderings for its first cultural project in Los Angeles

The Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Gruen Associates, and Studio-MLA are working toward a November 11 groundbreaking for the new Audrey Irmas Pavilion, an addition to the historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. Ahead of this weekend’s groundbreaking ceremony, OMA has unveiled a batch of new renderings of the 55,000-square-foot cultural center. The two-story, trapezoidal pavilion will contain two large event spaces within its sloped walls, including a rooftop terrace designed by Studio-MLA. The main gathering space along the ground floor will be elliptical in nature and will provide arched openings along two of the principal facades. The second space will run perpendicular to the ground floor space and will be outlined as a trapezoid along the opposing set of exterior walls. The terrace will stream daylight through the pavilion via a circular opening. The addition will allow the temple to offer supportive services for its congregants, including hot meal programs and medical clinics, Urbanize.LA reported. Renderings for the project depict a singular volume skinned with hexagonal stone cladding, with each of the stone tiles containing a rectangular glass block at its center. Gruen Associates is working as the executive architect for the project, which was designed by OMA partners Shohei Shigematsu and Rem Koolhaas. In a press release announcing the groundbreaking, Shigematsu said, “Focusing on communicating the energy of gathering and exchange, the pavilion is an active gesture, shaped by respectful moves away from the surrounding historic buildings, reaching out onto Wilshire Boulevard to create a new presence.” Shigematsu added, “We are thrilled to break ground on this significant project that will provide a new anchor for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the broader Los Angeles community.” The project represents OMA’s first cultural commission in the region and will join the firm’s forthcoming First and Broadway Park—also designed in collaboration with Studio-MLA—in Downtown Los Angeles and The Plaza, a mixed-use shopping complex slated for Santa Monica, as other works under development nearby. Plans call for the Audrey Irmas Pavilion to be completed by 2020.
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What is New England architecture?

New England might not garner the attention that other places get for contemporary architecture, but the region has a legacy of world-class architecture, including some great works of modernism. Two iconic monuments of modern architecture in America are in New England—Le Corbusier’s Carpenter Center at Harvard and Alvar Aalto’s Baker House at MIT—along with seminal late-modern buildings such as Boston City Hall and the Yale Center for British Art. Today, many contemporary design stars have built structures across New England, including Frank Gehry, Rafael Moneo, Norman Foster, Herzog & de Meuron, Michael Hopkins, Renzo Piano, Charles Correa, Fumihiko Maki, and Tadao Ando. The finalists for a competition for a new contemporary art museum on Boston’s waterfront included Switzerland’s Peter Zumthor and Studio Granda from Iceland. The only local firm considered for the museum was the then relatively young Office dA; principals Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de León went on to fame as architectural educators beyond Boston. Although not unique to New England, the whole mentality of "if-you-are-good-you-must-be-from-somewhere-else" is found here. As one might expect, Boston is the center of most architectural activity in the region. Yet, despite a heroic postwar age of Brutalism, too much contemporary architecture barely rises above the level of commercial real estate. With the exception of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Institute of Contemporary Art and David Hacin’s District Hall, much of the frantic new downtown construction features the kind of glass boxes that pierce city skylines from Dubai to Shanghai. The city’s embarrassingly named Innovation District (often called the Inundation District due to its propensity for flooding) is scaleless, overbearing, and disconnected from the soul of Boston. OMA’s new scheme for the area—which the architects gratuitously refer to as “a dynamic and vibrant area that is quickly emerging as one of the most exciting neighborhoods and destinations in the country”—is an 18-story glass cube with the dreary moniker of 88 Seaport Boulevard. One might have hoped for more from OMA’s first Boston commission. The block will offer almost half a billion square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of retail, and a paltry 5,000 square feet for civic and cultural use. Its gimmick is slicing the building into two sections with some terracing and plantings sandwiched in between. OMA disingenuously claims this double-volume exercise “creates diverse typologies for diverse industries,” and furthermore “generates an opportunity to draw in the district’s public domain.” In short, Boston will get an off-the-shelf dystopian nightmare. However, the Engineering Research Center at Brown University by KieranTimberlake is not just another knockoff. Although flush from the controversial but triumphant U.S. Embassy in London, the Philadelphians’ latest New England project is what good contemporary architecture ought to be. The $88-million, 80,000-square-foot laboratory and classroom building is both understated and environmentally responsible. Its 22 pristine labs steer the Ivy League school into uncharted territory in nano research, energy studies, and information technology. The ERC is a triumph, especially given Brown’s decades of struggle to find an appropriate contemporary architectural voice. Recent work on the Providence campus includes an international relations institute by Rafael Viñoly—the design of which was dumbed down to mollify historic preservationists; a tepid Maya Lin sculpture; and an awkwardly sited Diller Scofidio + Renfro art center that was commissioned to show that Brown could do trendy and edgy. These common missteps are best exemplified by the university’s first competition for an athletic center. Although the competition was officially won by SHoP, the donor sponsoring it declared his dislike of modern architecture and demanded the school hire Robert A.M. Stern instead. The cutesy Georgian result is predictably bland. The ERC was ahead of schedule and under budget, and rather than treating Rhode Islanders as rubes, the architects created what Stephen Kieran calls “a nice piece of Providence urbanism.” While the firm’s great strength is diminishing the environmental impact of their buildings, the ERC also contributes a handsome facade to the campus’s traditional buildings. The fiberglass-reinforced concrete fins, the building’s signature element, impose a timeless probity worthy of Schinkel. If KieranTimberlake grows weary of being identified as the designers of the $1-billion embassy that Trump slammed as “lousy and horrible,” imagine how tired Tod Williams and Billie Tsien must be of consistently being tagged with the label “designers of the Obama Library.” Is a client choosing them because of the reflected fame? Will all new works by the New York-based architects be measured against that Chicago shrine? Yet Williams and Tsien have created a number of noteworthy academic works in New England that deserve similar attention, including buildings at Bennington and Dartmouth. Their theater and dance building at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, is almost complete. Here, the very long shadow is not cast by the architects’ own projects, but by Louis Kahn’s library across campus. Kahn’s brick tribute to 19th-century Yankee mills—and the symmetry of Georgian style—is one of the great pieces of architecture in New England. The big block of the drama building by Williams and Tsien wisely does not choose to echo Kahn but is curiously almost a throwback to the early Brutalism of I. M. Pei. It establishes a more rugged character with a marvelous texture composed of gray Roman bricks. A more satisfying Granite State structure by Williams and Tsien is a library, archives, and exhibition complex at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. MacDowell is a century-old artists’ colony where thousands of painters, writers, and musicians, including James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Willa Cather, have sought quiet and isolation in a collection of rustic cabins in the woods. Thornton Wilder wrote his classic play Our Town during his time here. Williams and Tsien’s sensitive addition to the colony’s 1920s library is only 3,000 square feet, cost around $2 million, and is an exquisitely crafted gem. The single-story library is constructed of a nearly black granite. Set in a birch grove created by the leading modern landscape architects in Boston, Reed Hilderbrand, this gathering place for residents appears at one with the rocky soil and forests of Northern New England. A 23-foot-tall outdoor chimney flanking the entrance plaza to the library makes reference to the hearths in all of the MacDowell studios. It also looks like a primitive stele, giving the entire ensemble an aspect that is more primal than modern. Another prominent New York architect, Toshiko Mori, has produced a simple yet elegant warehouse for an art museum in the faded seaport and art destination of Rockland, Maine. Built to house a long-time contemporary art cooperative that had no permanent collection and only inadequate facilities for exhibitions and classes, the saw-toothed clerestories at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) make reference to New England factories while bringing in what the architect calls “that special Maine light.” Like those functional structures, Mori used economical, non-custom materials such as plasterboard and corrugated zinc that wrap the exterior, embracing the lack of funds to her advantage. Despite the nod to Rockland’s working class vibe, Mori created a thoughtfully wrought sophisticated work of art on an unremarkable side street. Mori’s Japanese heritage comes through in her subtle proportions based on a 4-foot grid. The CMCA offers a refreshing contrast to extravagantly costly new museums by superstar architects—the 11,000-square-foot arts center cost only $3.5 million. Mori has crafted a museum based on flexibility rather than attitude. A summer resident of nearby North Haven, she endowed her simple statement with an air of Yankee frugality. But perhaps the most encouraging new project is the $52-million John W. Olver Design Building at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. A cooperative venture of three departments in three different colleges—architecture, landscape, and building technology—the autumn-hued, aluminum-wrapped school embodies the dynamic spirit of New England’s first publicly supported architecture program. The 87,000-square-foot studio and administrative space is the work of Boston–based Leers Weinzapfel and landscape designer Stephen Stimson, with contributions from the faculty-cum-clients. Construction Technology chair Alexander Schreyer, for example, a guru of heavy-timber structural systems, helped fashion what is perhaps the largest wood-frame building on the East Coast. The zipper trusses that span the 84-by-56-foot, two-story-high common area demonstrate the inventiveness of wood technology. The glulam trusses arrived on-site precut and were snapped together with pins. In short, the academic contributors got to show off their research and also benefit from it. In a region noted for some of the nation’s oldest and most renowned design schools, the Design Building announces the arrival of the new kid on the block. Its handsome envelope is pierced by asymmetrically placed tall and narrow fenestration as a nod to the doors of the tobacco barns that are the university’s neighbors in Massachusetts’s Pioneer Valley. From its roots as a fledgling offering in the art department in the early 1970s, design education at UMass has grown into a powerhouse. As the core of a complex of postwar and contemporary architecture, the Design Building helps to bring Roche Dinkeloo’s Brutalist Fine Arts Center into contact with a business school designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). While BIG’s work is sometimes incredibly innovative, the firm’s UMass project looks as if it might be another example of a second-tier work foisted on a boondocks location. Less flashy than its newer neighbor, Leers Weinzapfel’s Design Building is nonetheless a bold, homegrown achievement. New England’s patrimony is a tapestry of local and outside talent. A significant regional building would not be a postmodern structure in the shape of a lighthouse or a neotraditional re-creation of a Richardson library, but something like the UMass studios. Capturing the spirit of the best of New England design depends little upon reputation and huge expenditure. Rather, there is a direct correlation between realizing a quality work of art and understanding the region’s history of wresting a hard-won life from the granite earth. The challenge for successfully practicing architecture in New England is accepting an uncompromising intellectual toughness that demands respect for the eminently practical as well as the aspirational.